Maui News

Applications Open for New Maui Youth Council

December 18, 2021, 4:07 PM HST
* Updated December 18, 12:16 PM
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Councilmember Kelly Takaya King

The Maui County Council is now accepting applications for its Youth Council, an advisory body composed of local high school students established by Resolution 21-199 on Dec. 3.

Councilmember Kelly Takaya King introduced the resolution. She explained, “While I was at the UN Climate Change Conference this fall, a major concern was the lack of youth participation. The message I brought to the conference—which was reaffirmed through many meetings and panels—was the importance of local-level action where national commitment falls short of what is necessary.”

The Youth Council is intended to ensure the voices of young people “are heard in County government on important issues with long-term effects,” according to the resolution. The resolution notes that youth leaders across Maui County have already taken steps to participate in civic affairs through activities like the Global Climate Strike and ‘Imi Pono Challenge, inspiring all generations to be engaged.

“The Youth Council is one way our county can prepare our young people to address complex issues. It will equip them with the skills needed to take action and overcome the feelings of hopelessness that have impacted some youth,” said King.

King’s executive assistant Axel Beers will advise the Youth Council, according to King. In addition to his prior work on local political and social issues, Beers is a licensed social studies teacher in the State of Hawai‘i with a background in youth development and education.

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“I taught social studies in the wake of the 2016 elections and during the 2020 election,” Beers said. “Major issues regarding race, class, the environment and social movements were in local, state and national news, and my students and I routinely discussed these challenging topics while making connections to the history and civics curricula.

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“It was clear from those discussions that young people are interested in current events and looking for ways to make a difference. By engaging youth in authentic learning processes that explore current issues, we’re not only developing the leaders of tomorrow, but strengthening our community and our local democratic process through dialogue.”

Youth Council members will learn the County’s legislative process, develop rules for the Youth Council, solicit policy ideas from peers, draft policy proposals, defend and critique bills, meet in the Council Chamber and ultimately transmit approved Youth Council policy recommendations to the Maui County Council.

The inaugural Maui County Youth Council will accept programmatic recommendations from students, members of the Commission on Children and Youth, councilmembers and other interested community members regarding the structure and activities of the Youth Council, according to King.

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King said she invites schools and organizations interested in collaborating with the Youth Council to meet student requirements for credit, senior projects or other related programs to collaborate.

Applications for the Maui County Youth Council are available at mauicounty.us. Maui County public and private school students in grades 9-12 may apply.

Students will meet in both virtual and in-person settings, while following COVID-19 protocols. Applications will be reviewed by the Commission on Children and Youth, and the final Youth Council cohort of students will be established by the County Council.

Applications should be submitted to [email protected] or Youth Council c/o Councilmember Kelly Takaya King, 200 S. High St., Wailuku, HI 96793. Applications will be a part of the public record and available for public review.

Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on Jan. 31. Please contact Beers at [email protected] or 808-270-8018 for more information.

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